The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

29 June 2007

Quote of the week

That dud car bomb in London? A sign of something worrisome, says Purple Avenger, but perhaps not the something you expect:

I have a real problem with this bomb not going off. Being an engineer, I favor things that work. Ineptly designed and constructed bombs are embarrassing. They demonstrate a lack of seriousness and poor craftsmanship that seems to be pandemic in the world today. Non-functioning bombs are a sort of "canary in the coal mine" indicator for general societal dysfunction.

When we were younger, we didn't have Mercedes-Benz automobiles to waste. We had beaters, even sub-beaters, and we liked 'em:

Walk into any Home Depot and observe the customers for a while and what I'm saying will become readily apparent. The majority, unless they are tradesmen, don't have the slightest clue. It's really a wonder that they managed to drive their cars to get there.

50 years ago this wasn't the case. The males in our society were expected to demonstrate a certain level of mechanical competence. People changed their own oil in their cars. Having to take a car to some mechanic to have a busted fan belt replaced would have been considered embarrassing in most social circles. Decades ago, at an early age, our males were constantly exposed to information and experiences that built a modest level of competence even among those who would eventually become white collar office workers.

To a large degree this is gone today. To a large degree, society is indeed choosing to suppress this competence in our youth. How many towns have laws now that prohibit you from keeping a "junk car" around? Most of them. Junk cars, aside from being junk, were/are wonderful mechanical training grounds for youth. People don't need 10 of them, but one isn't necessarily a bad thing.

We will disregard, for the moment, the government's role in making simple mechanical vehicles obsolete in the name of fuel economy, safety, or whatever. Not that fuel economy or safety are bad things, exactly, but there's a price to be paid for them.

I could change the fan belt on my Celica, and did. (And I carried a spare, in case I had to again.) My Infiniti has lotsa belts, none of which drive the fan, and none of which I can even reach without disassembling rather a